The 4-1-1 on Cheapside

“I think I have heard you say that their uncle is an attorney in Meryton.”

“Yes; and they have another, who lives somewhere near Cheapside.”

“That is capital,” added her sister, and they both laughed heartily.

“If they had uncles enough to fill all Cheapside,” cried Bingley, “it would not make them one jot less agreeable.”

“But it must very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any consideration in the world,” replied Darcy.

cheapsidemap

The London neighborhood of Cheapside is namechecked only twice in Pride and Prejudice, in one passage, but the brief reference holds a lot of information. 

Five things to know about Cheapside

  1. Cheapide is a London neighborhood that still exists today, beginning from about St. Pauls’ Cathedral to the Underground’s Bank station. (Mr. Gardiner’s Gracechurch Street is near Cheapside.)
  1. The name comes from the Old English word for “market.” It was designed as a bustling commercial center — and therefore not very genteel, according to Bingley’s sisters — with a wide main street and narrow exits. Sidestreets have simple names that denote what was sold there: Bread Street, Milk Street, Wood Street. They still exist today.
  1. Before the Great Fire of London of 1666, Cheapside was the center of the jewelry market. Much of the area was destroyed in the blaze.
  1. Tradition states that a Cockney isn’t a true Cockney unless they’re born within hearing distance of the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow Church in Cheapside.
  1. In 1912, workers tearing down buildings in the area made an important discovery. Under the floorboards in an old tenement at Cheapside and Friday streets, they found nearly 500 pieces of jewelry and loose gems dating back nearly 300 years. Most of the haul — known as the Cheapside Hoard — is kept at the Museum of London.

For more info, visit: hidden-london.com/gazetteer/cheapside/ and www.gia.edu/gems-gemology/fa13-cheapside-hoard-weldon.

About Jennifer Abella

Jennifer Abella is a TV/movie/pop culture/knitting/sewing/Jane Austen geek. Oh, and a total Anglophile. Follow her on Twitter: @nextjen.

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